Nigerian unions in front line against Boko Haram


In northeastern Nigeria, where violence has terrorized communities over the past several years, the Nigerian Union of Teachers is going beyond the difficult task of ensuring students continue to receive an education and teachers get the support they need, the Solidarity Center’s Tula Connell writes. Union leaders and members have taken on the enormous job of providing housing, food and medical assistance to some of the thousands of teachers and their families displaced by the upheaval:

In Borno state, where the teachers’ union includes members from 2,000 schools, the union converted nearly all of its conference space into housing for those displaced by the violence. The union has provided food, clothing and shelter to some 200 union members and their families in the past year. It also has created a database of Borno-based union members killed in the insurgency. The union has tallied 388 teachers killed in Borno as of January, the majority of the more than 600 Nigerian teachers killed by suspected Boko Haram in the northeast. … Over the past six years, Boko Haram has targeted public and private schools in northeast Nigeria, dousing the facilities with gasoline at night and setting them ablaze. Militants have also hurl homemade bombs at the concrete classrooms.

“Teachers are traumatized and hence hold lessons in fear,” says Bulama Abiso (above), chairman of the Borno state branch of the Nigerian Union of Teachers and a former teacher and principal. “They fear suicide bombers’ infiltration of the school.” RTWT

The Solidarity Center is a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.

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